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The Sowell Family Collection in
Literature, Community and the Natural World

New For Fall 2020: Sowell Collection Virtual Reading Series

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The Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community and the Natural World contains the personal papers of some of the country's most prominent writers on the natural world. Writers in the Sowell Collection have received numerous honors including a National Book Award, a MacArthur Genius Award, Stegner Fellowships, John Burroughs Awards, and numerous awards for literary and scientific writing.

Many of the writers have strong ties to Texas and their stories, essays, and poems are infused with Texas landscapes, people, birds and animals. Others have written extensively about their experiences in such far-flung places as Greenland, Egypt, Lebanon, Rwanda, Namibia, and Japan. Their topics range from cross-country skiing to canoeing and kayaking, from climate change to butterfly migration, from gardening in the desert to deer hunting in the Texas Hill country. These important American writers are deeply engaged with questions of land use and the nature of community, the conjunction of scientific and spiritual values, and the fragility of wilderness.

Texas Tech University students and faculty, visiting scholars and the general public are invited to conduct research in the collection. Since 2012, this research has been showcased in the Sowell Collection's annual conference, which attracts a diverse community of presenters from the US and internationally. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the annual conference will not be held on campus this year, but will be replaced by a series of virtual readings.

The Sowell Collection continues to add new writers and new material to their holdings, processing over 25 collections in the past 5 years. Texas Tech University remains grateful to former TTU Regent James E. Sowell and his family for their generous support of this collection.

Sowell Collection writers include:

  • Rick Bass
  • J. Drew Lanham
  • Pattiann Rogers
  • Lisa Couturier
  • Barry Lopez
  • Annick Smith
  • Max Crawford
  • Bill McKibben
  • Sandra Scofield
  • David James Duncan
  • Susan Brind Morrow
  • Ro Wauer
  • Gretel Ehrlich
  • Gary Paul Nabhan
  • Paul Gruchow
  • Howard Norman
  • Paul Hawken
  • Andrea Peacock
  • Clyde Jones
  • Doug Peacock
  • Stephen Graham Jones
  • Robert Michael Pyle
  • William Kittredge
  • David Quammen
  • Michael Koepf
  • Barbara Ras
  • John Lane
  • Marc Reisner

    Supporting collections include: Ed Abbey, Edward Hoagland, The Richard Rowland Comanche Pots Collection, The Orion Society Audio Visual Collection, and The Stephen J. Small Conservation Collection

    Recently acquired and as yet unprocessed collections include: Howard Norman, J. Drew Lanham, and Barbara Ras. Additional papers have been received from Barry Lopez.

    In addition to published books, materials available for research purposes include correspondence; drafts of manuscripts; research notebooks; diaries and calendars; and photographs, computer files, and film.  With this collection of natural history writers, The Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University is rapidly becoming one of the finest repositories of natural history materials in the world.

    Finding aids for these manuscript collections can be found at Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO).

    For additional information, please contact:
    Dr. Diane Warner
    Phone 806-834-0466

    Updated Oct. 13, 2020